Visitors to the lovely state of Oregon will find plenty to keep them busy in the scenic capital of Portland. However, just a short 60 miles away is another great spot worth checking out during a visit to the Beaver State—Hood River.

Known as the windsurfing capital of the world, Hood River is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers; foodies fond of good eats; history lovers; and everything in-between. Nestled between the scenic Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Mountain Range, Hood River is the perfect spot for a one-day getaway while visiting Oregon.

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Getting To Hood River

The best way to get to Hood River is by renting a car—this allows visitors to go at their own pace and stop off along the way. Multnomah Falls is just one stop worth making on the road between Portland and Hood River.

Travelers can also take a bus to Hood River, which usually takes about an hour and a half (including a very brief layover). Departures are from Portland International Airport Station, and the schedules vary. The Columbia Gorge Express is another public transit option for those who want to visit some scenic spots along the way.

Learn more about the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) bus here.

Outdoorsy Adventures For All

One of the best reasons to visit Hood River is to take advantage of its plethora of outdoor activities. Whether travelers want to sightsee or hike; fish or rent a boat--this charming town has it all.

  • A great place for hiking or just soaking up the views of the 75-mile canyon that cuts through the Cascades, Columbia River Gorge is ideal for hiking, camping, and some of the area’s most picturesque views. Be sure to check out the Horsetail Falls.
  • Check out Mt. Hood for some epic skiing in the winter, and some biking and hiking in the summer. The nearby Columbia River also offers lots of opportunities for water sports including fishing, boating, and windsurfing—or simply relaxing on the beach and take in the stunning views.
  • Pick a trail, any trail—the Mirror Lake Trail and Tamanawas Falls Trail are both top tourist picks.

Indoor Gems To Explore

For those who want to take a break from the outdoors, there are plenty of fun spots to see that are worth a visit, including museums; wineries; and a scenic ride up the railroad.

  • The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum has one of the biggest collections of antique *still-flying* airplanes around; The History Museum is a great spot for learning local culture and history, and the Columbia Center for the Arts. and Columbia Art Gallery is a cool multi-purpose spot to scope some art or catch a show.
  • The climate in Hood River is similar to Northern Italy and ideal for growing grapes. Check out Marchesi Vineyards and Cathedral Ridge Winery to see for yourself.
  • Take a scenic excursion on the Mount Hood Railroad. Visitors will love seeing the scenery including area orchards, vineyards, forests, and Mount Hood in the distance. The ride lasts about an hour and a half, perfect for an afternoon jaunt. Tickets can be purchased online and start at $35/person.

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Grab Some Grub

Spending the day in Hood River means checking out some of the town’s eclectic, fresh, and most importantly, delicious restaurant offerings.

  • Grab some Carne Asada or an order of Baja-style Fish Tacos at the amazing Mexican restaurant Lake Taco.
  • Have dinner and a brew (or two) at pFriem, a craft beer haven with fun vibes and great food. Try the classic Pimento Cheeseburger, or switch it up with a Bratwurst Hoagie.
  • Lunch with a view? Don’t mind if I do! At River Daze Café, visitors can enjoy amazing sandwiches on house-made bread while basking in the hills of the nearby Columbia River Gorge. Try the Spicy Tempeh Sandwich with a House Made Pretzel Plate on the side.
  • Breakfast (or brunch) is on the menu at the vibrant Scandinavian restaurant Broder Øst. Try the Lefse Breakfast with a side of smoked trout for a real treat. Add a Danish Mary to take it to the next level of delish.

Other Things To Do In Hood River

  • Grab a to-go pulled pork sandwich from Grasslands Barbeque and head to nearby Hood River Waterfront Park for a picnic.
  • Stop in and browse the charming Waucoma Bookstore.
  • There are so many wineries to explore in this lovely area, so why choose just one? Columbia Wine Tours are a great way to learn about the area’s wineries. Guests can choose between two different tours, each hosted by knowledgeable guides/drivers/wine enthusiasts. Tour rates start at $170/person.

Whether visitors spend the day outdoors relaxing, seeing the scenery, or playing water sports; touring the wineries and visiting the museums; or simply soaking up the beautiful atmosphere and having a great meal, Hood River is the perfect day trip for anyone looking to experience one of Oregon’s most charming scenic towns.

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